Improving Dementia Care in Clinical Settings

The Alzheimer’s Association is working to engage more than 300 health systems nationwide to offer proven solutions for improving health outcomes and more effectively managing the cost of care for people living with dementia. Kathy Jacobi, our health systems director, is leading this effort in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. 

“I work with health systems to help them uncover their greatest needs and opportunities for improving care for their patients. This results in a tailored plan to address gaps in care or areas needing improvement,” said Kathy. 

According to 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, 82% of primary care physicians say they are on the front lines of providing dementia care, but less than half feel prepared to do so. Part of Kathy’s role is sharing tools and resources to expand continuing education for a health system’s clinical teams and their communities.

This new initiative works with health systems and clinicians to:

Improve health outcomes – Facilitate timely and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, improve care management and prevent complications among older adults with comorbid conditions.

• Enhance the clinical experience for people living with dementia and their caregivers – Ensure communication provides educated answers and well-planned next steps, so that individuals and their families can access care services, make future financial plans and participate in clinical trials.

• Reduce the burden on clinicians – Empower clinicians with the training, resources and support to deliver a difficult diagnosis and provide follow-up care through an interdisciplinary approach that optimizes the roles of the clinician and other members of the health care team.

• Manage cost of care more effectively – Work with health systems and clinicians to enhance disease management following a diagnosis, including strategies that can prevent or reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits. 

“We will be able to reach and help more people by working with health systems, rather than engaging with just one hospital or clinic at a time,” says Kathy.

Knight Family Dementia Care Coordination Initiative 

The Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter recently received a grant to implement The Knight Family Dementia Care Coordination (DCC) Initiative. The Knight Family DCC model improves care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias by coordinating care between health care providers, the Alzheimer’s Association and people living with dementia and their caregivers.

As part of this project, the Alzheimer’s Association will provide professional education for clinical staff and dementia-awareness training for non-medical staff in health systems. A dedicated DCC Care Consultant will reach out to people living with dementia and their caregivers to create customized care plans, provide access to disease education and community resources, support them to effectively manage their loved ones’ symptoms and behaviors, and share their care plan with the referring provider. 

The Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter is happy to announce a new partnership with Swedish Health Services under the Knight Family DCC initiative. Nancy Isenberg, medical director for the Center for Healthy Aging and Neurology at Swedish says:

“We are so grateful to be the first health system in Washington to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association on system-wide Dementia Care Coordination.  Our partnership will include working to provide first responder dementia education and training, community and care partner support, as well as raising awareness about dementia prevention and care.

We are confident that this collaboration will bring much-needed community support for our patients living with memory loss and dementia and their families where they need it most.” 

C.H.A.M.P. Clinic

For several years now, the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter has partnered with Valley Medical Center’s Neuroscience Institute on a similar initiative called the Cognitive Health and Memory Patient (C.H.A.M.P.) Clinic. Alice Allen-Redfern, a care consultant at the Alzheimer’s Association, works with neuropsychologists, nurse practitioners and medical assistants at the C.H.A.M.P. Clinic to coordinate care. 

“There are a lot of benefits from having a care consultant connected to a patient’s health care team. The dementia journey is a unique and challenging one, so having someone who can walk through it with you, answer questions, provide resources, make referrals or simply provide a listening ear can make a valuable difference for families,” explained Alice. 

“My hope is that through the Knight Family DCC Initiative, this model can become more and more available to our health care systems. These types of supports are proving vital for people living with memory loss and their care partners.”

We are excited about this new opportunity through the Knight Family DCC Initiative to connect with health systems across the Pacific Northwest to improve care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and look forward to our growing partnership with Swedish Health Services.

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